Let’s End Loneliness at Christmas

I have been prompted into action by a piece on BBC Radio 5 Live this morning, about technology and social media aiding older people to overcome loneliness. Hurrah! I thought as I listened, finally this stuff is coming out in the open. You can hear the item below.

Every year there are stories about older people being isolated and lonely in their homes; and yet, every year there are advances in communications technologies which potentially offer cheaper and easier to use solutions (at least in part) to this problem. But there is no joining up.

What is the problem? I think society finds it really easy to hide behind its preconceptions and stereotypes about how older people would react to new technologies, and it uses this as an excuse to do nothing. And I think that technophobic professionals who project their own hangups onto the people they work with are a key barrier too. My own direct experience, through projects such as Our Digital Planet and Digital Tea Parties, suggests that, if approached in the right way, most older people will see the benefits of new technologies once exposed to them. So, let’s do away with the stereotypes and get on with breaking down loneliness. The lady featured in the Five Live report is a prime example of how this can work.

So, now I want to do something directly about this. I am announcing now that by November 2015 I intend to have a project in place that will connect people at Christmas. It will focus on bringing digital elements to Christmas parties in Care Homes, Sheltered Accommodation, Day Centres and elsewhere, with a view to leaving a legacy of older people who are  skilled and resourced to connect with each other and their friends and relatives over Christmas and beyond.


So, I am looking for project funding, sponsorship, donations, and help-in-kind to connect up Christmas Parties in 2015. If you can provide:

  • funding
  • equipment (tablet computers, laptops, projectors, connected TV devices, etc.)
  • publicity

Then please get in touch.

And it’s not too late to do something THIS Christmas. Let’s pilot this idea. If you are running a Christmas Party for older people, you’d like to collaborate on connecting it up, and you can find a few hundred pounds to make it happen, then, let’s do it in 2014!

Technology can break down so many barriers. Let’s shout this message to the world.


Only five days after originally posting this, I was able to run at pilot event in Trafford.  Here is the report of that event https://johnpopham.wordpress.com/2014/12/18/connected-christmas-making-it-happen/

9 thoughts on “Let’s End Loneliness at Christmas

  1. I like the idea! I do think the real challenge is with older people living independently within the community, sadly they are the most isolated 😦 …..people of all ages are lonely and dont have the means to stay connected either at home or because they are homeless and Christmas is so tough. We are already worried about closing our doors over Christmas. Count us in to do SOMETHING!

  2. Hi John

    I read this most recent post with interest! You probably know that Age UK is pushing hard at loneliness issues at the moment with a new Love Late Life campaign starting in the new year “no one should have no one”.

    We done a fair bit on DI inclusion with our local partners and through funded programmes – you might like to glance at our Pinterest page http://uk.pinterest.com/ageuk/google-down-memory-lane/ not to mention techy tea parties with EE, digital champions and silver surfers.

    We do know from experience that care home populations are very hard to reach and the idea of bringing online activity into communal living areas is a very sensible idea. It’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that some of our local partners – who are ‘switched on’ might be able to provide infrastructure for events next year. I don’t have any access to money but it might be worth having a conversation?

    best wishes


    David Richardson
    Programme Manager
    Innovation and Programmes Team
    Telephone 020 303 31074

    Tavis House, 1-6 Tavistock Square, LONDON WC1H 9NA

  3. Well, thanks to Adul Razzaq (@Nudge2health), Director of Public Health at NHS Trafford, and Matthew Gardiner (@TeamTHT) CEO, and Rodger Cairns (@rodgercairns) MD for Independent Living, of Trafford Housing Trust, I am able to do a pilot Connected Christmas Party for 2014. It will be taking place TOMORROW (17th December 2014) from 2pm at Royle Higginson Court, Urmston, Greater Manchester. We’ll be using the hashtag #connectedchristmas, so please follow the action on Twitter, Instagram, and elsewhere. I am also appealing for volunteers to talk to the residents on Skype. It would be really good if we could get some non-UK participants, but wherever you are, please join in. Please send me a message / contact request on Skype to johnpopham1, or reply below, or tweet me @johnpopham

  4. Excellent to see this happening!
    What’s needed are more examples like this of what is possible.
    The managers and activities co-ordinatiors in the care homes we see as part of http://www.connectingcare.org.uk are often focussed (rightly) just on providing care without thinking of innovations like this to provide types of care and fun differently. We also see access to devices / basic tech knowledge / poor wifi etc as factors holding care homes back, but changes are coming!
    Won’t be able to join you tomorrow John, but hope it goes well!

  5. Pingback: Connected Christmas – making it happen | John Popham's Random Musings

  6. Pingback: Another appeal to end loneliness at Christmas | John Popham's Random Musings

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